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Pegasus Scandal: We Have Nothing To Hide, Centre Tells Supreme Court – dot newz

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Pegasus spyware was allegedly used to snoop on journalists, politicians and activists

New Delhi:

The government today said it has “nothing to hide from the court” while the Supreme Court was hearing petitions seeking a thorough investigation into the Pegasus spyware scandal. The court, issuing notice to the centre, said the government should reply on allegations that the Israeli spyware was used on individual phones, adding it will decide on forming a committee to investigate the allegations only after getting the centre’s response.

“We do not want national security to be compromised, but the phones of individuals were attacked as per their claims. Only a competent authority can respond on that,” Justice Surya Kant said.

The Supreme Court agreed with the government top lawyer Tushar Mehta that it will not ask to disclose sensitive information to the public.

“…We don’t want to compromise with security of nation or interfere with Defence Ministry protocols. We will not ask you to disclose… But the issue is simple. Individuals here are submitting that interception of their phones happened and this can be done by permission of competent authority. So what is the problem with the competent authority to file an affidavit before us, without compromising national security and defence issues?” the Supreme Court said.

Mr Mehta had argued against putting out facts of the Pegasus case in the public domain citing national security.

“All petitions ask for one thing – Supreme Court inquiry. Yesterday, they asked that they just want the government to answer whether Pegasus was used. This software is purchased by all countries. But which software was used or not is never divulged by any country for national security reasons,” Mr Mehta said.

“We have nothing to hide from the court. We will place everything before the court mandated committee that will be set up. But it cannot be put out into public through affidavits. Tomorrow, web portals will say military resources were used illegally. Let us have a committee and we will place all information before it,” Mr Mehta said.

The matter will be heard again after 10 days.

The Pegasus allegations dominated an acrimonious standoff between the government and the opposition that led to multiple disruptions and chaos in the monsoon session of parliament.

A media consortium, including The Wire, has disclosed that 300 phones from India were revealed to be on the list of potential targets on the leaked database of Israeli spyware firm NSO, which supplies the Pegasus spyware. It is not established, however, that all the phones were hacked.



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Amarinder Singh On Backfoot? Congress Calls Key Meeting Of Punjab MLAs – dot newz

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The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year (File)

New Delhi:

There is fresh sparking in the Punjab unit of the Congress. Citing “representation from a large number of MLAs”, the Congress, in a late night tweet, has called for a key meeting of its Punjab legislators today.

“The AICC has received a representation from a large number of MLAs from the Congress party, requesting to immediately convene a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of Punjab. Accordingly, a meeting of the CLP has been convened at 5 PM on September 18 at Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee office.

“AICC directs the PPCC to facilitate this meeting. All congress MLAs of Punjab are requested to kindly attend this meeting,” Harish Rawat, Congress’s Punjab in-charge, tweeted Friday night.

Mr Rawat also tagged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in his tweet.

Navjot Sidhu, who continues to take potshots at his Chief Minister, retweeted Harish Rawat, then tweeted, and repeated, that a meeting has been called.

“As per the AICC directive, Congress Legislature Party meeting has been convened at @INCPunjab PPCC Office, Chandigarh on 18 September 2021 (Saturday) 5 PM,” said Mr Sidhu.

Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken will be the central observers for the Punjab meeting.

There has been no reaction from Captain Amarinder Singh so far.

Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators had raised a squadron of complaints against the Punjab Chief Minister and said that they had no faith in his ability to honour poll promises.

The Congress has been papering over the differences between the two top leaders in the state unit, telegraphing a message of unity and cooperation.

As recently as September 8, Mr Rawat, speaking to news agency ANI, said that the people assume party leaders in Punjab are fighting because the ”brave” leaders put forward their opinion strongly.

“Punjab is the land of braves. People there put their opinion very strongly there and it looks like they will fight. But, there is nothing like that, and they find solutions to their problems. Punjab Congress is solving their issues themselves. We are not doing anything,” the Congress leader said.

When asked about the relation between Amarinder Singh and Mr Sidhu, Mr Rawat said, “If there would be a dispute, it would be good for Congress.”

The BJP, in a sharp contrast, has replaced four chief ministers in six months. Most recently Vijay Rupani quit as Gujarat Chief Minister a year ahead of polls.. His resignation follows that of BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka in July and a double blow in Uttarakhand, where Tirath Singh Rawat quit barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat.

Both Gujarat and Uttarakhand will vote for new governments next year.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was declared the Punjab Congress chief in July after weeks of infighting and in face of strong opposition by Captain Amarinder Singh. He has been a vehement critic of the state government.

Even after a month of assuming the new role, Mr Sidhu keeps pulling up the government for not fulfilling the pre-poll promises.

The Congress, which has only a skinny group of states in its kitty, has been battling leadership issues in Punjab, which is quickly turning into a political sinkhole for the grand old party.

The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year.





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Coronavirus Live News Update: India Creates World Record In Vaccinations With 2.5 Crore Doses In A Day – dot newz

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The government had set out with a target of 2.5 crore vaccinations and crossed the mark by 10,390

India crossed 2.5 crore Covid vaccinations in a day for the first time on Friday as the government raced to deliver a record on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted to confirm the “historic” figure.

The government had set out with a target of 2.5 crore vaccinations and crossed the mark by 10,390.

With 34,403 more people testing positive for COVID-19, India’s overall infection tally has increased to 3,33,81,728, while the count of active cases has dipped to 3,39,056, according to Union health ministry data updated on Friday.

The death count due to the disease has climbed to 4,44,248 with 320 more fatalities being recorded, it said.

The number of active cases now comprises 1.03 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has been recorded at 97.64 per cent, according to the data updated by the ministry.

It said that active COVID-19 cases in the country decreased by 3,867 cases in a span of 24 hours.

Here are the updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) cases:

Over 7 lakh people vaccinated in Assam on PM’s birthday

A total of 7,09,524 people received the COVID-19 vaccine in Assam on Friday as the state government undertook a mega inoculation drive on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, a bulletin said.

Over 2.16 crore people have been immunised, and 44.02 lakh of them got both doses of the vaccines, it said.

The special drive was conducted in 4,575 COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs), of which 4,557 were government sites and 18 private ones.



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WHO Emergency Approval For Covaxin Delayed Till October 5 – dot newz

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The assessment of the SAGE working group on the available pieces of evidence will determine EUA.

New Delhi:

World Health Organisation’s (WHO) approval for the emergency use authorisation (EUA) to COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, is likely to be delayed till October 5.

As per WHO, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) will be meeting on October 5 to granting EUA to Covaxin.

Hanna Nohynek, SAGE member will be introducing session objective setting, an update on regulatory decisions and an overview of Working Group deliverables.

The session will recommend EUA based on the clinical data on Covaxin from phase 1, 2, 3 trial and post-marketing studies on safety, immunogenicity, efficacy and effectiveness.

It will update on global, regional and country-level plans for vaccine safety monitoring.

The assessment of the SAGE working group on the available pieces of evidence will determine EUA.

Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech on Friday said it has submitted all the data to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin and is awaiting feedback from the UN Public Health Agency.

In a series of tweets, Bharat Biotech said that Covaxin clinical trial was fully compiled and available in June 2021.

“#COVAXIN clinical trial data was fully compiled and available in June 2021. All Data was submitted for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) Application to World Health Organization in early July. We have responded to any clarifications sought by #WHO and are awaiting further feedback,” Bharat Biotech tweeted.

As a responsible manufacturer with past approvals for its other vaccines, the company said it would not find it appropriate to speculate or comment on the approval process and its timelines, it further said.

“We are continuing to work diligently on obtaining WHO EUL at the earliest,” it added.

Bharat Biotech has submitted its Phase 3 clinical trials data that demonstrated 77.8 per cent efficacy to the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

Covaxin was developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. Covaxin, which has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), contains a whole virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, which is produced in Vero cells.

The vaccine is stable at 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius (refrigerated) and is shipped in a ready-to-use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels.

The WHO has so far approved Covid vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, US pharma majors Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, China’s Sinopharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca for emergency use.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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